'He had limitless potential' - James' former coach delighted by his success

The pair took Banfield to unprecedented glory in 2009 with a title triumph, and Falcioni still gets a kick out of seeing his former protege succeed

EXCLUSIVE

James Rodriguez's former coach Julio Falcioni has admitted he is delighted to see the Real Madrid man continue to star for both club and country. 

The Colombian made his name as a young promise thousands of kilometres away from home, after sealing a move to Banfield in the Argentine Primera Division as a teenager. 

He made an instant impact on the Lomas de Zamora club, playing a vital part in the Taladro's first-ever title win in the 2009 Apertura just months after making his bow. 

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And while his stay at Banfield was a short one, ended in 2010 when Porto came knocking, Falcioni still remembers with pride those days in which the playmaker shone at Florencio Sola. 

"James was 16 when he arrived at the club, and 17 when he got to the first team in 2009. People asked me on TV how I took the chance with a player so young, and every time I said he had limitless potential. I was right that time, that's not common," the trainer joked to Goal as he recalled James' first steps in Argentina.

"He was good at training, and the family listened to my advice: I told his mother to remain near him, so he wouldn't get caught up in the vices of the big city.

"We put him in a different position than he was used to and he agreed to the move so he could be part of the team".

At just 23, James was already starring for Real Madrid, where he landed via the Portuguese club and Monaco and immediately forged a place in the first team. 

"I'm very proud to be part of his career. I said he had no limits, and by the age of 24 he was already captain of the national team, he played in Argentina, Portugal, France and now in Real Madrid," Falcioni added, while confessing that he has followed his former pupil's career from afar since he left Banfield.

"Look at the odds: we spent that period in Banfield and we never crossed paths again. In fact I've never spoke to James again, not even on the phone.

"The same thing happened with [Sergio] Aguero and with [goalkeeper Oscar] Ustari, who I had at a very young age at Independiente. With Rodrigo Palacio too.

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"I had Aguero with me in 2006 and he was amazing, I see him on television and it fills me with pride to see him stand out."

Falcioni left Banfield in 2011 for Boca Juniors, where he lifted his second national title in the 2011 Apertura and took the Xeneize to the Copa Libertadores final the following year. 

After short stints at All Boys, Universidad Catolica and Quilmes, the coach is now back for his third spell at Banfield, who sit four points off Primera leaders Boca as the Argentine season enjoys its summer break.